The Raleigh Report
May 21, 2017
Last Week In the Office
Left, Dr. William McLean of MAHEC Education Center, and on the right, a group of doctors representing the NC Chapter of the American College of Physicians for the annual “White Coat Wednesday”. They include Dr. Noel Ivey and some of her colleagues in Internal medicine.
Craft Brewers visit from Buncombe. We have a great and growing craft
beer industry in WNC. It is good to have the opportunity to talk with all our
visiting groups about the issues they face. Photos by Intern Emily Walter.
The Week Ahead
Next week the House will begin their work on the State Budget. So far we have the Governor’s budget proposal and we have the Senate’s plan. Below you will note the differences between Governor Cooper’s approach and Senate Republican leaders’, but first a quick reminder of the budget process itself.
The State Budget: The Process
A state budget shows what is important to us and what are priorities are. Always keep that in mind as you hear and learn about the budget.
Passing a budget takes several steps.
· Step #1: Governor Cooper introduces his budget proposal.
· Step #2: The Senate passes its budget proposal.
· Step #3: The House passes its budget proposal. [Next week begins Step #3.]
· Step #4: The House and Senate agree on a common budget.
· Step #5: The Governor signs the budget or vetoes it. If he signs, it is law.
· Step #6: If the Governor vetoes, the House & Senate will try to override his veto.
· Step #7: If House & Senate override, their budget is law. If not, we start over.
Right now, we have two budget proposals: Governor Cooper’s and the State Senate’s. Check out this side-by-side comparison of the two.
Nothing Good Happens at 3:00 AM
Last week, the Senate Republicans passed their budget without a single Democratic vote. The budget was drafted over time by a few senators without public input. It was released to the public before midnight on a Monday, voted on in committee on Tuesday, and passed by the full Senate in a vote on Wednesday and a vote at 3:00 in the morning on Thursday.
The headline of the Senate Republican budget is that it falls far short of Governor Cooper’s proposal. Senate Republicans prioritize tax breaks that primarily benefit the wealthiest individuals and corporations at the expense of the middle class. Governor Cooper’s budget focuses on job creation, education investment, and putting more money in the pockets of working families.
Here are a few specific highlights.
Senate GOP Budget
No tax or fee increases.
Billion dollar tax cut that gives average millionaire 60 times more of a break than the average middle class family.
10% pay raise for all teachers over two years.
No raise for first year or teachers with 25+ years’ experience. A smaller raise than Governor’s budget at every experience level.
$20 million in flexible funding for local schools to hire TAs or school support staff.
$150 per teacher to reimburse for out-of-pocket classroom expenses.
Eliminates pre-K waiting list.
Cuts pre-K waiting list in half.
$20 million investment in expanding rural broadband access.
$250,000 for state IT agency.
$30 million investment in job “ready sites” to help struggling areas attract jobs.
Reinstate child and dependent tax care credit.
Does not reinstate credit.
$800 or 2% pay raise for state employees AND a $500 bonus. No retiree COLA, but a 1.5% bonus for retirees.
$750 or 1.5% pay raise for state employees. No retiree COLA. No bonuses.
The newly-introduced Senate GOP budget fell far short of what was needed. Then, at 3:00 in the morning on Thursday, things got even worse. Senate Democrats had criticized the budget for failing to do more to address the statewide opioid abuse crisis. Governor Cooper’s budget called for $14 million statewide for mental health and law enforcement. The Senate GOP budget set up a pilot program in only one county to tackle the crisis.
Stung by Democratic criticisms that their one county approach fell short, Senate GOP leaders passed an amendment to fund more pilot programs, but only in counties represented by Republican senators. Where did the money for these new programs come from? From cuts to early college high schools, eastern NC’s STEM program, small downtown revitalization, the NC Museum of Art, and programs that help teacher assistants work toward college degrees, so they can become teachers – all exclusively from counties represented by Democrats! It was partisan payback at 3 in the morning, with students, teacher assistants, and some of the most economically vulnerable communities in our state as the real losers. And while it’s a small part of the overall budget, it pretty much tells the story of how bad the Senate GOP budget is.
At 3 a.m., NC Senate GOP strips education funding from Democrats’ districts
The News & Observer
Republicans in N.C. Senate cut education funding — but only in Democratic districts. Really.
The Devil’s in the Details: How to Cut 133,000 People Off Food Assistance
One of the worst parts of the Senate GOP budget is that it is kept secret and rushed through. The House is usually better than that and I hope this remains true this year. We are still finding out critical details of the Senate budget, days after it was passed by their side. For example, the Senate budget includes a change in state law to cut 133,000 North Carolina citizens off federal food assistance programs. Included in this are 51,000 kids. This is a cut that does not save a dime of state taxpayer money. Not a dime. Instead, it just makes our people ineligible to receive federal food assistance.
So, under the Senate Republicans’ budget, we continue to send the same amount of federal tax dollars to Washington, but 133,000 of North Carolina citizens stop receiving food assistance funds. It is a kick in the face to our most vulnerable people for no good reason. You know the saying “the devil’s in the details” – that is particularly true with the Senate Republican budget.
Cooper criticizes Senate budget provision on food stamps
In the wee hours, NC Senate Republicans act small (Jim Jenkins column)
The News & Observer
133,000 people would lose food stamps under NC Senate budget
The News & Observer
Good News: Raise the Age Passes NC House
Not all the news from the General Assembly is bad. Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass an important juvenile justice reform called “Raise the Age.” Currently, North Carolina is the only state in the country to handle 16 and 17 year olds in the adult criminal justice system. No other state thinks this is a good idea. Studies and independent analyses show that it is better to handle kids who commit crimes in juvenile court. They receive more appropriate punishments and have access to better rehabilitation programs. Juvenile court produces a much lower rate of recidivism. Raise the Age has long been championed by House Democrats, but has failed to earn support in the Senate. This year its prospects appear better than ever, as the Senate, for the first time, has passed a version of the Raise the Age law. Hopefully, the two chambers can come together to pass legislation that will work to make our communities safer and give our young people the best resources to get their lives back on track after they have committed a crime.
More Good News: Voter ID
North Carolina earned national attention last year when it passed one of the most sweeping anti-voter access laws in the country. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck the law down citing, as one reason, its targeting African-American voters with “near surgical precision.” Republican leaders appealed the Fourth Circuit’s opinion. This week the U.S. Supreme Court turned away the GOP appeal leaving the Fourth Circuit’s opinion as the law of the land. Our laws remain unchanged for now, but GOP leaders, in criticizing the court decisions, are vowing to pass new laws. So stay tuned.
In the Media
Strict North Carolina Voter ID Law Thwarted After Supreme Court Rejects Case
Supreme Court won’t review decision that found N.C. voting law discriminates against African Americans
Editorial: Hoist a toast to the Supreme Court, but you better drink fast
News Clips – Disaster Relief
Sleeping on floors and in boarded up hotels. 7 months after Matthew, renters still mired in misery
The News & Observer
Our view: Mr. President, come see for yourself
Our Opinion: Shortchanging N.C. on hurricane relief a slap in the face
The Wilson Times
EDITORIAL, May 14: Hurricane victims need more help
News Clips – Opioid Abuse Crisis
Forsyth has largest rise in opioid-related deaths among urban areas
2 Triad counties in Top 4 for opioid overdose deaths in North Carolina
Greensboro News & Record
Opioid-related deaths increase by 73% in NC from 2005 to 2015
New data shows sobering impacts of opioid crisis in NC
News Clips – Misc
NC Lawmakers Advance Bill That Would Raise Money For School Construction
Gov. Cooper visits Charlotte as Sealed Air officially relocates to Queen City
26 counties will no longer require emissions testing
Even sponsors know some bills won’t pass NC legislature. Why bother?
Is the Census heading for a crisis?
Thank you for your interest in state government. I hope you will contact me if I can be of help.
Keep in touch,